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May 18, 2009

Kristin Asbjørnsen: some are more unique than others

by quaesitor

I just love it when I come across people who just don’t quite fit into a box. Well, of course, because we are all unique, none of us ever fits snugly into any boxes. But then again, let’s face it, (to mangle an iniquitous maxim from the past), everyone is unique but some are more unique than others.

Well, get this: Kristin Asbjørnsen – Norwegian singer with a voice straight out of a jazz club doing an album of Negro Spiritual covers. It’s called Wayfaring Stranger – A Spiritual Songbook.

At times she sounds almost as deranged as Björk; occasionally she reminds me of David Byrne and Talking Heads; but much of the time, her voice has a life-wearied gravel that would not be out of place in the Deep South cotton fields. I’ve no idea where she is coming from spiritually, but i’ve hardly listened to anything else in the last few days. The arrangements are fresh and full of variety. Backing vocals are used sparingly, but when they suddenly burst in, it’s nothing short of breathtaking.

Here is the track listing – click here for excerpts.

  • Trying To Get Home
  • I’m On My Way
  • Ride Up In The Chariot
  • Now We Take This Feeble Body
  • In That Morning
  • Come Go With Me
  • Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down
  • Going Up
  • Don’t Be Weary, Traveler
  • I Am A Poor Wayfaring Stranger – Going Over Jordan
  • Oh Glory

How did I discover her, you might well ask? Well, it’s through this fab site called MONDOMIX – a vast resource for world music that would otherwise have no access to the normal markets. Most of this stuff is nowhere to be found on iTunes, for instance. I signed up originally (when it was called Calabash) to find cool new African stuff. But it’s got great 1000s of great tracks from all over the world – and every month or so, they release a free track to entice you in. Check it out.

But before listening to other things, I defy you not to fall in love with Kristin’s voice and be uplifted by the deeply rooted, spiritual realities of this album.

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